PKM2, a potential target for regulating cancer

Gene. 2018 Aug 20;668:48-53. doi: 10.1016/j.gene.2018.05.038. Epub 2018 May 15.


Aberrated glucose metabolism is a key future of cancer cells. Unlike normal cells, tumor cells favor glycolysis even in the presence of sufficient oxygen. Pyruvate kinase (PK), a key glucose metabolic enzyme, converts phosphoenolpyruvate (PEP) to pyruvate by transferring the high-energy phosphate group to adenosine diphosphate (ADP) to produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Pyruvate kinase M2 (PKM2), one of the four isozyme of PK, which universally expressed in rapidly proliferating cells such as embryonic cells and cancer cells. Recent years, more and more research suggested PKM2 plays a crucial role in cancer progression through both metabolic and non-metabolic pathways. On the one hand, the middle product of glycolysis, such as amino acids, nucleotides, lipids is necessary to rapid growth of cancer cells. On the other hand, PKM2 supports tumor growth through regulating the expression of gene that involved in cell proliferation, migration and apoptosis. In this article, we review the recent advances to further understand the regulation and function of PKM2 in tumorigenesis. Given its multiple effects on cancer, PKM2 may be a potential target for cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Keywords: Cancer; Metabolism; Pyruvate kinase M2.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carcinogenesis
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Humans
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Neoplasms / enzymology*
  • Neoplasms / therapy
  • Thyroid Hormones / metabolism*


  • Carrier Proteins
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Thyroid Hormones
  • thyroid hormone-binding proteins